Why Aaron Sorkin Is Right About the Huffington Post

Aaron Sorkin
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

'The Newsroom' scribe gets it right in worrying about the impact of our snark-infested culture

During a panel discussion earlier this week previewing the new TV season, I worried, in regard to journalism, that “the metabolism of the Web is making us stupid.”

Aaron Sorkin is equally concerned — and just as accurate — when he suggests the same culture is making us nastier as well.

Now, I’ve been among the chorus of critical voices regarding Sorkin’s HBO series, “The Newsroom.” But that shouldn’t diminish his insights as a media observer, which have been honed through years of dramatized analysis, from “Sports Night” to “The West Wing,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” to “The Newsroom.”

Certainly, it’s hard to argue with Huffington Post’s knack for generating traffic, so much so that its cryptic headlines and teases have given birth to a feed designed strictly to decode and spoil them.

But it only reinforces Sorkin’s case, frankly, to see HuffPo staffers respond to his comments, as quoted in Mother Jones, with volleys of snark, as if there’s no room for legitimate criticism or self-reflection regarding the manner in which they operate.

It’s worth noting, too, that Huffington Post and Sorkin should be ideological allies, inasmuch as both tilt toward progressive politics. So his broadside is all about the site’s excesses, and not so easily dismissed as just another partisan skirmish. (Incidentally, this isn’t the first time Sorkin has lamented the steady slide of media standards, having weighed in a few years ago regarding how the media has “de-creepyized voyeurism” in a piece via — wait for it — the Huffington Post.)

Of course, even bothering to raise these questions risks being branded a fuddy-duddy, and railing against the influence of the Web, at this point, does have an obvious “You kids get off my lawn” quality. It’s simply a no-win situation, however good it might feel (especially if you have your own TV show) to vent about it, as Sorkin did by having “The Newsroom’s” protagonist say, “Snark is the idiot’s version of wit, and we’re being polluted by it.”

Still, just because you can’t change things doesn’t mean you have no right to gripe about them. And whatever I might think about “The Newsroom,” Sorkin deserves credit for having the guts to wade into these snark-infested waters.

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  1. the problem is that HP is a fraud. it pretends to be a news source but instead publishes blogs by unvetted sources – many of whom have no idea what they’re writing about. the result is misinformation, at best. HP does not abide by basic journalistic standards; it does not present an unbiased view; it’s writers cannot be sanctioned in case of misrepresentation. when readers are then polled based on that, this can become tragic – for example, in the case of the fight against terror.

  2. Mark Isenberg says:

    Mr. Sorkin cemented his place in writing history even before the West Wing but David E.Kelley and Aaron can be allowed to hiccup or make a mistake so those of you who are caught up in what he thinks of new media,the Huffington Post or the not so great (again) future of Journalism ought to at least say thank you to a guy who did more than smell the mushrooms but gave us great entertainment and a lot of thought provoking dialogue on the small and large screen. The Newsroom is overbaked,given that it is on after True Blood on HBO but there are moments still when we are lucky to have Mr.S. still out here and he has not even tackled Bradley(Chelsea) Manning or Mr. Snowden,yet.

  3. G. Jardoness says:

    I don’t know which is more cringe-worthy, Aaron Sorkin bemoaning the amount of sarcasm and sanctimony in public discourse, or the author repeatedly using the word ‘snark’ to describe the level to which the discourse has fallen?

  4. RPD says:

    I quite like the Huff’s snarkiness! Nothing wrong with titilating the reader’s attention with out of the box journalism! Huff’s stuff is for the new generation and those of you who don’t like it well your dinosaurs of journalism! Get with the program!!!!

    • Frank W says:

      RPD, when HuffPo publishes a misleading headline on AOL and the actual Headline and story has the opposite content, then something is wrong at HuffPo’s editorial work. They are trying to be a real news source, used to be honoured before the sale to AOL, but their opinions are intruding into the story and they are fast becoming The National Enquire of the web. As AJW says, Snark is for bloggers or editorial opinion pieces, not for news stories.

    • AJW says:

      RPD, if you had a bit more maturity in you, and if you knew what ‘journalism’ actually means (as opposed to general blogging) and if you knew how to spell (it’s not ‘your’, hon, it’s ‘you’re’) then you might make a real point. Instead, you’re making Sorkin’s point for him.

      • Frank W says:

        Oh, wow! I didn’t even read the end of RPD’s comment “your (sic) dinosaurs of journalism! Get with the program!!!!” Uh, I agree there is a new form of Journalism, but “youth” always need to listen to their more experienced elders. It always has been LEARN THE RULES of the right way to do things and then, you know the right way to break them. The amount of crap that there is on the internet purporting to be fact is scary and usually just repetition of stuff found on someone’s blog.

  5. Jamie says:

    More that snark the almost unending trolls of nasty for sake of being mean and offensive crowd are the ones that send me shaking my fist at those out of control kids. Disagreement is okay but I do wish moderators would keep better control of comments sections and delete span and name calling with a vengeance.

  6. guest says:

    Ariana Huffington owns the tab so…

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